Essential Lessons Learned Developing 30+ Customer Playbooks



play•book: a book containing a sports team’s strategies and plays, especially in football.


That is the definition that Google provides when doing a search on the term.


Companies have widely adopted this term to create the analogous customer success playbook for their organization which outlines the elements that make up the go-to approach for getting things done.


According to Accenture,


“A playbook contains the strategies, approaches, programs, actions, etc., – the ‘plays’ that the company executes in its operations.
They include “process workflows, standard operating procedures and cultural values that shape a consistent response – the play.
“A playbook reflects a plan; an approach or strategy defining predetermined responses worked out ahead of time.

Why a Company Needs a Customer Success Playbook


Playbooks are essential for scale and seamless execution.


By outlining predetermined responses, they help to clarify each role’s responsibility in ensuring customer success and how collaboration amongst roles should be conducted to improve customer experience.


They also boost operational effectiveness by codifying customer success best practices into customer success tools, which facilitate consistent and repeatable delivery of the customer journey.


A customer success playbook allows Customer Success Managers (CSMs) to spend more time on strategic, differentiated, interactions with customers because they spend less time developing and building plays that are otherwise repeatable.


If your organization does not already have its customer success playbook, then stop procrastinating and execute the playbook!


Essential Lessons Learned


1. Create Guardrails not a Recipe: do not try to “over processize” the playbook by outlining every finite step people should follow. This leads to people shutting down independent thinking and blindly following a recipe. Create a framework that provides guardrails to facilitate role clarity on what is to be accomplished but also allows for roles to use their best judgement and experience when handling customers uniquely.


2. Incorporate Foundational Tools: customer success tools such as ROI calculators, value realization objectives documented within a Customer Success Plan (CSP) and customer maturity models should be used consistently throughout the playbook to tie the plays together. These foundational elements contain the customer’s objectives and keep them accountable. They should be used as the common thread tying together communication and are the vehicle for providing guidance through a seamless journey.


3. Customer Success Plan to Mirror the Playbook: the CSP should be mirror the playbook. That is, every play that the vendor executes, there should be an equal and opposite set of activities and responsibilities that customer must achieve as well. This ensures that plays are not executed at customers with no one to act on them at the other end, rather the customer is held accountable and an active participant in achieving their goals.


4. Align to the Customer Journey: plays should align to, and support, the customer journey. In other words, plays should be accretive to driving the customer forward along the journey and realizing value. Just because your organization is trying to close the renewal and thinking that by talking to them once per quarter the customer will be satisfied and realizing value, does not make it so. Understand how to align objectives of both parties so that both parties can realize their objectives.


5. Keep the Playbook Holistic and Simple: Do not try to document every possible eventuality. Employees have common sense and they should be encouraged to use it when executing. The goal is to create a repeatable customer journey framework and corresponding tools to free up resource time to focus on the unique needs of each customer, not to create bespoke plays each time.

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